How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively?

How Do I Get My Child To Write Creatively?

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How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively? =  They Must READ!!!

As a private tutor, I’ve found that the creative writing aspect of the 11+ strikes dread into even the most confident of children.

However, preparation in the run up to the 11+ exam is key and that includes masses of reading.

You should be aware how long your child will have if they need to do a creative writing piece as part of the 11+ examination.  Thirty minutes [including five minutes for planning] is about standard but check with the school of your choice to be absolutely certain.


How Do I Get My Child To Write Creatively?

How Do I Get My Child To Write Creatively?

How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively? =  Encourage them to stand out from the crowd

Remind your child once again that they must be memorable for writing an interesting and memorable piece of work.  Tell your child to imagine a very tired teacher who has to wade their way through a pile of essays that are boring them to tears.  What if your child’s essay was at the bottom of the pile and is read late at night when the teacher just wants to go to bed?

Your child has to paint a mental picture that engages and invigorates that teacher.  Your child’s hand is the paintbrush and the words are the paint!

How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively? =  Start Small

Imagination, or lack of, can be your child’s worst nightmare.  Your child will be on their own in the exam environment so they must be reminded that they will not have your help or that of a tutor’s on the actual day.  This may sound obvious but it’s important your child realizes that they will have to ‘fly solo’ when they tackle the examination.  Therefore, I recommend you start small and build up gradually.

I always recommend creating a notebook of new spellings/words.  Every time your child comes across new vocabulary they should write it down so it can be learned and reviewed going forward.

Use this to then create an extension exercise whereby you pick a new word and ask your child to create an interesting sentence.

This is much less daunting than telling your child to write a side of A4.

Once you’ve done this a few times, progress to writing detailed character descriptions for say, a tramp, a clown or an injured animal.  Tell your child to visualize the character so if we’re thinking about a tramp you could imagine their matted hair, ripped clothing, dirty fingernails, sad eyes and unpleasant odour.  How would the image look if it was projected onto a cinema screen?  Would the viewing audience be impressed?

A fantastic resource is The Descriptosaurus which I always recommend to my tutees.

How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively? =  Build up to Imagination Stretching

As a progression from this, you could try what I call an ‘imagination stretching’ exercise. Encourage your child to write a diary entry or a short story [which could be half to a full page of A4] and which must include three key objects/ideas.

What do they make you think about?  Well, there are endless options and some of my immediate thoughts have been highlighted by the bullet points in the examples below: –

  1.                  A key / a spade / a candle
  •         Digging for treasure by candlelight.  Perhaps your character has managed to get hold of a key to a locked park or garden.  What do they find?
  •         Waking up in a large, dark house and your character trips over a spade left in the hallway.  Do they find a key in the lock of a door they’ve not seen before whilst looking for a First Aid kit?
  •         Your character is spending time with a grandparent at their garden allotment.  Do they find something in the soil when digging up the potatoes?  Is it an ancient gold ring that grandpa has a closer look at using candlelight?
  1.                A chest of drawers / a photograph / a large country house
  •         A family is staying at a country hotel and your character spends an afternoon rummaging through the attic space.  What do they discover?
  •         Your character is moving house and they lose a precious photograph.  Where does it turn up?
  •         Your character sees a chest of drawers featured in an old photograph.  Do they find it at a country house auction?
  1.                  Footprints in the snow / a barn / a scarf
  •         Does your character get lost in the snow?  Do they use their scarf as a way of attracting help? Do they find shelter in a barn or does someone take them to a barn when they are injured?
  •         Does your character find footprints in the snow?  They could follow the footsteps to a barn.  What do they find there?
  •         Is your character a tramp trying to survive winter?  How do they try to hide their footprints in the snow to avoid discovery in the barn?
  1.                  A feather / a coin / a tree
  •         Is your character inside their tree house? They may be treating an injured bird who needs vet treatment.  The coin might have been dropped by the bird and it may be extremely valuable.
  •         Your character may be investigating the grounds of their new home.  Perhaps there is a large oak tree that is very old and large enough for someone to crawl inside its base.  What do they find there?  It could be a tin placed there many hundreds of years ago.  Perhaps its contents help solve a local mystery.
  •         Perhaps your story is set during World War Two.  Your character is poor and their family cannot afford Christmas.  Do they long for a Christmas tree?  Perhaps your character finds a coin in the street which buys them a very small tree.  Do they use feathers from a local farmyard as decorations? Perhaps you can show that people can be imaginative and achieve happiness with little or no money at all.

The only limit is your child’s imagination.  Please encourage your child not to mention the three objects/ideas in the first few sentences of their story just so that have got them out of the way!  Get them to imagine how the objects/ideas fit into a story and make sure they pace themselves so they hold the reader’s interest.

How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively? =  Keep A Journal for Ideas

Useful tips as you start preparing your child for writing creatively:-

  • Keep a journal of holidays and hobbies.  This will help your child to create a ‘bank’ of ideas which they can review and revise from as necessary.  Quite frequently, schools do ask a child to write about their hobbies or the ‘best holiday’ they have ever had.
  • Keep the pieces of work already completed in a folder.  That way, your child can go back and revise from them meaning they will have lots of ideas in their head on the day of the examination.
  • Write about a wide range of experiences and remember that you can mix real life experiences with some imaginary information.  Therefore, start writing stories about: –

–          A time when you were happy

–          A time when you were sad

–          A time when you were surprised by something

–          A time when you have experienced disappointment

–          A time when you have been frightened by something

–          The best present you’ve ever received

–          The person you admire most in the world and why

How Can I Get My Child to Write Creatively? =  Little and Often

In short, don’t overwhelm your child.  Build the skill base slowly over time always remembering that reading goes hand in hand with creative writing.

For more useful tips, just click here to review the 11+ Archive.

Here’s to life on your terms,


Rachel a.k.a The Life Hack Tutor

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How Do I Get My Child To Write Creatively?

How Do I Get My Child To Write Creatively?


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